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Nuchal Translucency

Nuchal translucency, or nuchal translucency screening, is a specialized ultrasound done during the first trimester of pregnancy.

What is nuchal translucency?

Nuchal translucency, or nuchal translucency screening, is a specialized ultrasound done during the first trimester of pregnancy. This routine screening can tell you if your child has a chance of developing a chromosomal disorder (i.e., Down syndrome). The results are not definitive and only show the possibility that a baby may have a specific problem. Diagnostic tests, such as chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or amniocentesis, can determine for sure if your baby has a health issue.

The screening can be done as a standalone appointment under limited circumstances. If you schedule a consultation at Unity Maternal Fetal Medicine in Winter Garden, FloridaDr. Heather Stanley-Christian can discuss the screening with you.

How does the test work?

As an embryo develops, a clear space beneath the skin at the back of the neck can be seen. Between 11 and 14 weeks (when the embryo measures between 4.5-8.5mm), the size of this space can be measured by ultrasound. The ultrasound measures the thickness of fluid buildup at the back of the developing baby’s neck. If this area is thicker than usual, it can be an early indicator of trisomy 18, Down syndrome, or heart problems.

What can I expect during my appointment?

During the test, you will lie down on your back or side on an exam table. Dr. Heather Stanley-Christian will then spread a gel on your belly. A transducer (a handheld, wand-like device) will be pressed against the gel on your skin and moved over your stomach. Images of your baby will be displayed on a monitor, and Dr. Stanley-Christian will look for and measure the thickness of the fluid buildup at the back of your baby’s neck. When the test is done (usually after 15-20 minutes), the gel is wiped away. You may not receive information about the screening right away. Full results are typically available within 1-2 days.

You may need a full bladder for the test. If so, don’t be surprised if you are asked to drink water before your screening to fill up your bladder. (You can urinate as soon as the test is completed!)

Are there any risks?

There are no known risks linked with a nuchal translucency, for the mother or the baby. Ultrasound is a safe way to get information and check for problems. It does not use x-rays or other types of radiation that may harm the baby.

Request an appointment in Winter Garden, Florida

If you intuitively feel that something is not right with your pregnancy, but you don’t have a label yet, please speak directly with your OB/GYN or schedule a consultation at Unity Maternal Fetal Medicine for conclusive results. Call (352) 404-5544 or fill out the form below to request your consultation online.